A Devon woodturning club has produced a clutch of wooden eggs to help staff at Paignton Zoo keep the real eggs of endangered species safe from harm.

Paignton Zoo’s senior head keeper of birds Pete Smallbones with the wooden eggs.

Members of the Woodbury Woodturners Club made 137 eggs – the smallest a centimetre long and the largest around 20 centimetres.

When Paignton Zoo’s senior head keeper of birds Pete Smallbones discovered front of house colleagues Izzy Warren and Justin Fuller had taken up woodturning as a hobby, he asked if they could make some dummy flamingo eggs.

Bird keepers place dummy eggs in nests if real eggs are taken for hand rearing. Keepers sometimes remove eggs to incubate if they are important and if the keepers fear the parents might accidentally break them. When the egg starts to hatch, it is returned to the parents.

The duo went above and beyond the initial requirement and made eggs of all shapes and sizes. Woods used include yew, sycamore, beech and oak. When word got around, a number of other woodturners contributed eggs, which took between five minutes and half an hour to make.

Mr Smallbones said: “We now have a huge range of dummy eggs of different sizes – the smallest will be good for shamas, while the larger ones will be ideal for ostriches or flamingos. We really do appreciate this amazing gift.”

Paignton Zoo spokesman Phil Knowling echoed the sentiment: “The members of Woodbury Woodturners Club have helped our keepers with their important work rearing endangered species and caring for one of the largest bird collections in the UK. We’d like to thank them for their hard work and enthusiasm – the eggs are real works of art.”

For more information, visit www.paigntonzoo.org.uk

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